US school tag tracker project prompts court row

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A court challenge has delayed plans to expel a Texan student for refusing to wear a radio tag that tracked her movements.


Religious reasons led Andrea Hernandez to stop wearing the tag that revealed where she was on her school campus.

The tags were introduced to track students and help tighten control of school funding.

A Texan court has granted a restraining order filed by a civil rights group pending a hearing on use of the tags.

ID badges containing radio tags started to be introduced at the start of the 2012 school year to schools run by San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District (NISD). The tracking tags gave NISD a better idea of the numbers of students attending classes each day – the daily average of which dictates how much cash it gets from state coffers.

Introducing the tags led to protests by some school students at John Jay High School – one of two schools out of 112 in the NISD catchment area piloting the tags.

Ms Hernandez refused to wear the tag because it conflicted with her religious beliefs, according to court papers. Wearing such a barcoded tag can be seen as a mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13 in the Bible, Ms Hernandez’s father told Wired magazine in an interview.

NISD suspended Ms Hernandez and said she would no longer be able to attend the John Jay High School unless she wore the ID badge bearing the radio tag. Alternatively it said Ms Hernandez could attend other schools in the district that had not yet joined the radio tagging project.

Written By: BBC News
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

31 COMMENTS

  1. If you want a rough idea what “the beast” looks like, read Revelation 13$. In short, it resembles many monsters and animals combined, and not an electronic circuit. Presumably the religious argument boils down to not wearing symbols of Earthly authorities. Apparently we can pay them tax – render unto Caesar etc. – but not meet them on this. It’s a very odd case all over.

    $ http://www.biblegateway.com/pa

  2. I can understand the worries about this leading to a surveillance state.  On the other hand we are talking high school, which you are supposed to attend daily (unless sick, etc.).  If all the badge does is tell the system you are on school property, as opposed to in the washroom, smoking behind the gym, etc. then I don’t see it any more intrusive than the many jobs that require you to sign in/out or scan your ID in/out.

    However I find the whole religious objection ridiculous.  I could just as easily argue that my driver’s license contains three 6’s, or some passports contain three 6’s, etc. so the entire identification system is the work of the devil.  Just another way of interpreting a meaningless phrase so you can get special treatment.

  3. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the
    beast, or the number of his name.

    I have heard that some think the mark of the beast will be a bar code or chip.  It gives them something else to worry about on dark cold nights.

    It’s a biblical hermeneutics thing.  There were probably times when they thought it was a wart or pimple or birthmark.   Lepers have also been suspected of doG’s displeasure.

  4. Religious nuttiness aside, tagging kids is just, well, wrong.

    then I don’t see it any more intrusive than the many jobs that require you to sign in/out or scan your ID in/out.

    Really? Would you wear one? I certainly wouldn’t. Why would my employer needs to know my whereabouts at all time? Why would a school, especially? What amount of trust is required here? 

  5. Satan <3 technology.  No fuss, no muss.

    I totally object to this idea – beside the privacy issue, students thoughts and actions
    would be altered/stymied, the same way a person acts differently knowing they are on camera.

  6. yes, you are all correct.  However when it comes to liability, the school district can be sued if any harm comes to the student when they are supposed to at school.  If a student walks off campus and is hit by a car, it is negligence on the part of the school district.  Truancy issues also pop up here.  As a teacher, I am supposed to educate students and many many people think my pay should hinge on my students achievement.  If that is the case, why can’t we monitor students for their where abouts when they SHOULD be attending classes.

    Religious silliness aside, how can I educate a student who is not responsible to attend my class?  How can a district be sued for lots and lots of money for a student who is NOT on their property???

  7. glenister_m
    If all the badge does is tell the system you are on school property, as opposed to in the washroom, smoking behind the gym, etc. then I don’t see it any more intrusive than the many jobs that require you to sign in/out or scan your ID in/out.

     

    I agree.

    At a university where I work sessions, all staff wear name badges, and carry swipe cards.  I slot mine into the transparent wallet behind my name badge.

    The cards operate electronic locks on doors to give access to buildings, science laboratories, medical laboratories, computer labs,  workshops, and offices, according to security clearance, and to a higher level of access than student cards.  

    I believe that this also provides a record for security of who has accessed what, which guards against abuses. 
    It also denies any intruders without authorisation or cards, access to sensitive or dangerous areas.

  8. I expect them to know if a student arrived on time and when they leave. When I put my kid on the bus, I have to trust that they can keep track of him until he gets off it. That information should NOT be broadcast all over the internet. It’s nobody else’s business. Once my kid gets off their bus, it’s none of their business where he is, and I don’t want them to know.

    If a student walks off campus and gets hit by a bus, then the student shares a great deal of the responsibility, but how hard is it to take attendance at the beginning of every class?
    If I want to put a tracking devise on my child to make it more difficult for kidnappers, that is one thing. But that is my business.

  9. Strikes me as the wrong cure, really. As a punishment for repeated offences, well it’s been seen before (ASBOs). But as a general rule, no. Kids and especially their parents should learn to take more responsibilities. 

    I totally agree though, schools and their staff are NOT baby sitters. I wish they’d cut teachers and schools some slack, and stop considering kids as do-no-wrong little angels.

  10. There’s a difference between holding an access pass and having a microchip monitoring your movements throughout the day. I’m really not a fan of that kind of surveillance. I don’t like being treated like a criminal. 

  11. Interesting.  It seems that mostly all students in the 112 schools have accepted the system without complaint.  Only a few students at one school have protested.  Of these, only the court case of the sole student citing religious reasons was reported.

    So… What happened with the other few protesters?  Why is this case singled out for reporting by the BBC? Did the others not receive the same treatment, or were they just deemed not interesting enough?

  12. What’s wrong with simply ‘clocking in’? As long as absence doesn’t bring penalties to them, students will not cheat the system too much by clocking in for their mates and lead to false statistics. 

    If any student objects out of religious motivation, his/her bank card, electronic keys and any other chip-containing property should be confiscated. See if any claims come in.

  13. Zen,
    I totally get it.  I see the infringement of rights.  I do….  How about this??? The kids parents sign a waiver discharging the school’s liability should the kid walk outside to catch a cigarette.  Here in the US kids can attend high school until they are 21 years old.  21.  So, a 21 year old man can decide to leave the property to get a sandwich, have an accident and it is the taxpayers in the district that foot the bill.

    As far as taking attendance every period; we do.  That does not stop little Fonzie from wandering.  We know they are missing….but where are they?

    I also think it is a bit of a leap to decide that this will be broadcast on the internet.  Anyway, I see your objections and understand your point of view.  I also see the vantage point of the school district.  Either way, claiming that a barcode is against your religion is silly.

  14. As a former Catholic. I can’t see how the religion would exempt the girl from this kind of surveillance; as a believer in individual freedom, though, I worry that Big Brother is rapidly galloping our way.

  15. Excellent point!  However tagging students is truly an invasion of their privacy.  I commented on another story earlier against  Saudi husbands who tag their wives in the same way to keep track of  THEIR  travels.  No matter what the reason, it’s just wrong!

  16. This is a totally different situation.  It’s meant to deny access to trespassers, not to track the movements of people who work at the university.  Honestly, I worry for the future if this sort of spying begins in high school!  I’m glad I’m 72 & probably soon will be checking out of this rat race.  I’m sure not eager to meet Big Brother.

  17. Barbara. “Excellent point!  However tagging students is truly an invasion of their privacy.  I commented on another story earlier against  Saudi husbands who tag their wives in the same way to keep track of  THEIR  travels.  No matter what the reason, it’s just wrong!”

    Well wives are adults, while children are children. Following your logic it would be just as much an intrusion to ask your little darlings where they are going when they leave the house?

    Children ARE NOT little adults.

  18.  

    Aber ration

    Children ARE NOT little adults.

    A good point. 
    Electronic tracking avoids wasting teaching time with registers, and gives a properly evidenced record of attendance and late arrivals at classes.

    It also avoids lying little dodgers, conning gullible parents into blaming teachers for their lack of learning, when late arrivals and dodging lessons is the real cause.

    (Yes some children are not fitted with halos, and do lie about what they get up to.)

  19. How long have kids gone without being “tagged? “This is just plain wrong. Has parenting/teaching gone out the window to the point that computers need to watch kids?

    As crazy as that parent may seem for thinking this is the mark of the beast, they are not far off; it’s a sign of a big brother watching, a lack of freedom and an intrusion.

    Alan4Discussion, I wear a badge at work also. (Usually, just to open the door) It does not track my whereabouts like animal in the wild. It’s just a pass that gets me in the building at any time of the day or night.

    By the way, the only kids I recall being  in high school beyond 19-20, were generally kids with disabilities or some sort of physical or mental disability.

  20. QuestioningKat
    How long have kids gone without being “tagged? “This is just plain wrong.
    Has parenting/teaching gone out the window to the point that computers
    need to watch kids?

    The pre-digital system was teachers checking odd corners and wash-rooms for lesson dodges and sly smokers.  – Even before off-site truancy was looked at.
    Quickly identifying and dealing with misconduct, is the key to proper standards in education where learning can take place.

    There was also the problem of the juvenile criminals who checked in at registration and then nipped off for a bit of shop-lifting and burgling!

    Denial of such problems, does nothing to educate or reform such children.

    Children have no “right” to avoid supervision in school time by their teachers!

  21.  Alan, this lumps kids that genuinely care about being in school with kids that are a problem.  This would reveal where you are, including the time you spent sitting on the toilet. I wouldn’t want to be tagged – nope!  If people want reform, it needs to start with better parenting.

     Ever check out the newspaper statistics on local school districts. The better school districts correlate to a higher SES of the community and specifically the parents. Higher SES…the better the kids’ test scores… the more likely they stay in school… and graduation…less teacher absenteeism…less violence…more likely the kid will continue onto college. Parents with high expectations who value education will have kids who do the same. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Parenting and poverty are the real problem.

  22. In response to a bunch of the posts, parenting has gone completely by the wayside.  Many of these kids (who, again, can be up to 21 years old) have absolutely zero support or guidance from home.  Zero.  School feeds them twice a day (free of charge (that is free of charge to their parents)), school gives them clothes, school buys their families Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas presents.

    Mom and Dad (if there is one) stay asleep or stoned or drunk and the kid does whatever the hell they want and usually that means coming to school to skip classes all day and sell weed or other drugs to who ever will buy from them.  They are sometimes armed, always dangerous and here you all are defending their rights.  These kids are the overwhelming minority, but they exist in every school.  In most cases, we know who they are.  I know, I know, point them out to the police.  We do,  they are back in school three days later with an ankle bracelet on doing the same thing.  What about the thousands of other kids who have a right to education?

    Allow the districts to throw these kids out (we are not allowed),  stop having public schools simultaneously be the dumping ground for all societies problems and the whipping boy when something goes wrong.  We aren’t even given the dignity of a single test that ALL schools have to pass.  A fair playing fileld. 

     And, if you have all the answers, step up, we need you.  Get involved.  Write a letter.  Show up to a school board meeting.  Reclaim the hallways of our schools for the good people and good kids.

       

  23. QuestioningKat
    Alan, this lumps kids that genuinely care about being in school with kids that are a problem.  This would reveal where you are, including the time
    you spent sitting on the toilet. I wouldn’t want to be tagged – nope! 
    If people want reform, it needs to start with better parenting.

    While in an ideal world parents would take responsibility for training their children in good conduct and social responsibility, in the real world there are a significant number who don’t, so the schools have to do their best to do the job for them and to protects other children from their disruptive and criminal activities.

    Schools educate all children.  Not just the well behaved cooperative ones.  The troublesome ones cannot just be turned out on to the streets for a life of crime!

    Ever check out the newspaper statistics on local school districts. The
    better school districts correlate to a higher SES of the community and specifically the parents.

    I am well aware of the other issues you raise – not from newspapers, but from my work as a Chair of a board of governors of one school, as a governor of others, and as an elected governor representative for the whole district on committees of  the Local Education Authority. 
    I also spent some time working on a teacher-troubleshooter team, dealing with problem children. 

    Letting them and their activities drop out of sight and gather in gangs, is promoting opportunities for the proliferation of antisocial behaviour, bullying, disruption, theft and other criminal activities.

    Supervision with clear electronic evidence of who was where, and when incidents happened, with early intervention is now the best answer.  

    Trying to put together witness accounts among liars who are into intimidation, is much more difficult and time consuming. 

    The main body of children is entitled to good education without bullying or disruption. 
    That requires effective supervision of disruptive minorities based on proper evidence, without diverting excessive teacher time and efforts away from the main job of communicating knowledge, attitudes to learning,  and standards, to classes.

  24. This is a band-aid that is not big enough for the wound. Maybe students will pass the tag to a friend to wear in a sock…then pass to another friend walking in the hall. In a coordinated effort, kids will find a way to get around this. Hackers will wise up also.  Money will be lost and there will still be parental problems.

    I hate to say this but crookedshoes nailed it. These kids are the overwhelming minority. Most kids are great; the overwhelming minority wrecks it for the children that want to be in school. They bring down the quality of education for the whole and it is unfair.

    I don’t see how these tags can help. What will they really do? Hold the kid and their parents accountable for showing up to school? …and if the parents do not care if the kid is school or not?
    There is no real substitution for dealing with parental problems.

  25. QuestioningKat –
       There will always be problem families and kids who try on dodges.

    That is why schools have disciplinary systems.

    Giving up because of problems, produces no solutions.

  26.  So you want to be able to “throw these kids out”? And then what will you do about the gangs of feral kids that result? Send in the army? Build yet more prisons?  The costs of a remedy will be greater for you “good people” than the existing problems you describe.

  27. @rdfrs-b296f2fa6d1b680a87b4767d385c8252:disqus   So as long as they aren’t bothering you they should be allowed to run roughshod over the current generation of students????

    No, I am not advocating wholesale throwing out of these kids.  But, because they know that the threat is not even possible, they behave accordingly.  What I am saying is, because our hands are tied, and as you say it is a greater social risk and injustice to toss them out, that people (you included) have to accept the public school system with all it’s warts and problems.

    Since these kids are part of the system, do not expect the system to work flawlessly.  See, other countries that we are being compared to throw kids out if they do not achieve (by a certain grade) look to Japan for a great example.  The suicide rate among Japanese teenagers soars.

    We test everyone.  Retarded children, kids in jail, truant kids, you get the picture.  We are then unfairly compared to foreign schools that do not test anyone but the elite.  Then I have to sit through criticism of our way of doing things.  

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